Finally, a full day of CAAMFesting, I spent all day at the New Parkway, sampling their beers and chowing down on their food and enjoying the movies.
Fist up was THE TIGER HUNTER, a wonderful little comedy about an Indian making it big in 1970's America. Sami Malek's father was a great man. He hunted and killed the tiger that was terrorizing their village, and was a hero and beloved for his whole life. Sami is an engineer, who runs a little repair shop in his village. But he can't get the girl of his dreams (whose father is an important general) until he becomes rich and successful. There's no hope for that in the village, so they take up a collection and send him to America, where he has a job offer from a big engineering firm. But when he arrives in 1970's Chicago, the job isn't actually there, and he finds himself living in a single apartment with about a dozen other Indians/Pakistanis, all engineering geniuses working menial jobs in America. Nevertheless, with an upbeat attitude and some brains, he becomes an important part of the team who invents the first microwave oven to evenly heat frozen food. A wonderful little comedy, with some screwball antics but also a really sweet heart about all that's more important than simple financial success.
Then the shorts program Center Stage, shorts about performers!
CLIFF, SUPERFAN!: Cliff Hiyashi has attended thousands of Stanford games, of all kinds of sports. And he's the first and loudest in the stands, to the point where sometimes people will go to see him more than the sport itself. He was actually there in the audience, and seems like a really cool guy.
DANCING THROUGH LIFE: THE DOROTHY TOY STORY: The excellent life and career of Dorothy Toy, and her dance partner (and briefly her husband) Paul Wing, who were the top Asian American dance team for decades. At 99 years old, she doesn't dance anymore, but she is still an inspiring person.
KANON ROCK: A brilliant and beautiful animated spectacle of Pachabel's Canon, updated for modern days with a bit of a rock and roll style. Awesome.
SONG ON CANVAS: A young man, trapped in the corporate world, gets an important reminder of his artistic soul, courtesy of his mother.
SPEAK CHINGLISH: A young Asian American actress botches another audition, by not speaking in a ching-chong accent, but instead just being talented. As funny as it is sad and wrong.
Next up was a bit of action-heist fun with BITCOINS HEIST, from Vietnam. A wild adventure of computer viruses, blackmail, high stakes, revenge, and super-complicated plots. Oh, and magic. A criminal payoff goes awry, and the cops end up with a very clever accountant for some very bad people. And after a sting goes bad, the lead cop decides to use the accountant to catch the bad guy. But in order to do that, she needs to put together an elite team of criminals to pull a heist on the bad guy. Think of it like SUICIDE SQUAD, but it doesn't suck (note: I haven't actually seen SUICIDE SQUAD.) Fun, complicated, hilarious, and head spinning. And some great damn magic. Excellent fun.
And finally, I ended the night with CARDINAL X. Set in a fictional San Francisco Bay Area college that is definitely not Stanford--the school is the Cardinal, but the bird not the color--it's the story of a lower class girl, Angie Wang, who gets into a prestigious west coast school. She's introduced to Ecstasy at a party, and likes it. She's also a chemistry genius, so when she loses her academic scholarship, she starts manufacturing her own X, and becomes the major supplier of West Coast party scene. But she's still a good girl, as evidenced by how she helps out a little girl named Bree, whose father is frequently absent and whose mother is frequently too high on crack to take care of her. Bree reminds her somewhat of her own past, but Angie isn't quite self-aware enough to see how much damage her business is doing, and how bad it can get if she starts a fight with the club that distributes her product. A cool story about life spiraling out of control, and how to get back to what's really important.
Total Running Time: 386 minutes
My Total Minutes: 424,177